Connect with us


Oil palm growing: New twist as Buvuma residents disown group over compensation



Residents of Nkuusi Village, Busamuza Sub County in Buikwe District meeting VODP officials to sort out their compensation woes recently. PHOTO BY DENNIS SSEBWAMI. 

BUVUMA. The controversy surrounding compensation of residents who were displaced by the oil palm project on Buvuma Islands in Lake Victoria has taken a new twist with a section of residents disowning their colleagues who claim that their properties were undervalued.

The group of 205 residents (led by Mr Sefu Buluuba) from eight villages in the sub-counties of Busamuzi and Buwooya and Buvuma Town Council, said they are satisfied with the compensation packages received from government and wondered why their colleagues included their names on the list of those complaining.

“We really don’t know the intentions of people who included our names on the list of those who claim that their properties were undervalued. On our part, we are contented with the compensation packages we received from government and we have already vacated our land to pave way for the project to kick off,” Mr Buluuba, who has since relocated to Kansansa Village, Busamuza Sub County told Journalists in Buvuma Town on Saturday.

Another complainant, Mr Alex Kiyira, a former resident of Bukwaya Village said he was considering suing those who put his name on the list of those complaining about unfair compensation.
“I was shown the valuation and survey report which I also signed and I am not complaining about the compensation package I got. Whoever included my name on the list of disgruntled residents has his own motives and once I know him, I will drag him to court,” Mr Kiyira, who has since relocated to Buwanguzi Village, said.

The development comes a week after the High Court in Mukono on June 18 dismissed a petition in which five residents in Buvuma Islands had sought an injunction stopping the oil palm project until the case they filed against government complaining about unreasonable compensation and creation of ghost beneficiaries on their land is disposed of.

Mr Rajab Hassan, the chairperson Ssese Village in Buwooya Sub County said he was also surprised that his name appeared on the list of those who petitioned court yet his piece of land was not considered under the oil palm project.
“l was surprised when l got to know that my name appears on the list of residents who are complaining. l decided to rush to court so that l inform the judge that I am not among the complainants, because I am still occupying my Kibanja (a plot of land) and my land lord did not sell off his title to the project managers,” he said.

The Buvuma Oil Palm Project, which was unveiled in 2008, has failed to kick off due to endless land disputes and environmental concerns.

The project, a component of the Vegetable Oil Development Project (VODP) which is under the Ministry of Agriculture, is implemented by Oil Palm Uganda Limited, a subsidiary of Bidico Uganda, which manages oil palm plantations on Bugala Islands in Kalangala.

The project targets 10,000 hectares and 6500 will be used by the project and the remaining 3500 hectares will be utilized by out growers.

When contacted, Ms Connie Masaba the VODP project coordinator was upbeat about the development, saying compensation woes had hindered the project on the island.
“We are happy to hear that majority of the residents have started realizing the importance of the project. A handful of them have been confusing others but they cannot stop us from embarking on the project,” She said during a telephone interview yesterday.

Ms Masaba said the process of land acquisition was based on ‘willing buyer willing seller’ principle which applied to both landlords and tenants and no resident was coerced to give away their land.

She explained that they engaged consultants who used valuation rates that are set by district land board and approved by the Chief Government Valuer, to determine the amount to be paid to the tenants for their properties.
She said government has so far spent Shs67 billion on compensation of 54,442 project affected persons (PAPs) and a total of 7,591 hectares have been secured.
“Actually, we are only remaining with 20 residents we are yet to compensate and they will be receiving their money in two months’ time.” she added

Busamuzi Sub County Chairperson, Mr Charles Aisu said some residents who went to court were simply misguided and think government will give them more money.
“Those five residents who went to court are all from my sub county [Busamuzi]. What l know, they just want to delay the project. Four of them got their compensation money two years ago and even vacated the land. They misused the money, and now want to get more, ’’ he said.

Mr Aggrey Wakasi, one of the five petitioners said although the majority of their colleagues had ‘betrayed’ them, they will not relent in their quest to get fair compensation for their land.
“Even if we remain two, we shall pursue our case until we get justice,” he said.

Recently legislators on the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture advised government to swiftly implement the oil palm project, warning that any further delays would give unscrupulous individuals a chance to grab the land earmarked for the project.
The MPs also directed the project manager to quicken the process of compensating the PAPs, who refused to vacate their bibanja (plots) holders, claiming their property was undervalued.

However, they urged the project implementers to ensure that there is no encroachment on the existing forests and wetlands during the implementation of the project.

Buvuma Main Island has about 200 square miles (517km) of land and 26 gazetted forest reserves.


Breaking: Witness Radio and Partners to Launch Human Rights Monitoring, Documentation, and Advocacy Project Tomorrow.



By Witness Radio Team.

Witness Radio, in collaboration with Dan Church Aid (DCA) and the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD), is set to launch the Monitoring, Documentation, and Advocacy for Human Rights in Uganda (MDA-HRU) project tomorrow, 22nd February 2024, at Kabalega Resort Hotel in Hoima District.

The project, funded by the European Union, aims to promote the protection and respect for human rights, and enable access to remedy where violations occur especially in the Mid-Western and Karamoja sub-regions where private sector actors are increasingly involved in land-based investments (LBIs) through improved documentation, and evidence-based advocacy.

The three-year project, which commenced in October 2023, focuses its activities in the Mid-Western sub-region, covering Bulisa, Hoima, Masindi, Kiryandongo, Kikuube, Kagadi, Kibale, and Mubende districts, and Karamoja sub-region, covering Moroto, Napak, Nakapiripirit, Amudat, Nabilatuk, Abim, Kaabong, Kotido, and Karenga districts.

The project targets individuals and groups at high risk of human rights violations, including Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and Land and Environmental Defenders (LEDs). It also engages government duty bearers such as policymakers and implementers in relevant ministries and local governments, recognizing their crucial role in securing land and environmental rights. Additionally, the project involves officials from institutional duty bearers including the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), Equal Opportunities Commission, and courts, among others.

Representatives from the international community, faith leaders, and business actors are also included in the project’s scope, particularly those involved in land-based investments (LBIs) impacting the environment.

The project was initially launched in Moroto for the Karamoja region on the 19th of this month with the leadership of the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD).

According to the project implementors,  the action is organized into four activity packages aimed at; enhancing the capacity and skills of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and Land and Environmental Defenders (LEDs) in monitoring, documentation, reporting (MDR), and protection, establishing and reinforcing reporting and documentation mechanisms for advocacy and demand for corporate and government accountability;  providing response and support to HRDs and marginalized communities; and lastly facilitating collaboration and multi-stakeholder engagements that link local and national issues to national and international frameworks and spaces.

Continue Reading


Kiryandongo leadership agree to partner with Witness Radio Uganda to end rampant forced land evictions in the district.



By Witness Radio team.

Kiryandongo district leaders have embraced Witness Radio’s collaboration with the Kiryandongo district aimed at ending the rampant violent and illegal land evictions that have significantly harmed the livelihoods of the local communities in the area.

The warm welcome was made at the dialogue organized by Witness Radio Uganda, Uganda’s leading land and environmental rights watchdog at the Kiryandongo district headquarters, intended to reflect on the plight of land and environmental rights defenders, local and indigenous communities and the role of responsible land-based investments in protecting people and the planet.

Speaking at the high-level dialogue, that was participated in by technical officers, policy implementers, religious leaders, leaders of project affected persons (PAPs), politicians, media, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and development partners that support land and environment rights as well as the Land Based Investments (LBIs) Companies in the Kiryandongo district, the leaders led by the District Local Council 5 Chairperson, Ms. Edith Aliguma Adyeri appreciated the efforts taken by Witness Radio organization to organize the dialogue meeting aimed at bringing together stakeholders to safeguard community land and environmental rights in order address the escalating vice of land grabbing in the area.

During the dialogue, participants shared harrowing accounts of the impacts of land evictions and environmental degradation, including tragic deaths, families torn asunder, young girls forced into marriage, a surge in teenage pregnancies, limited access to education, and significant environmental damage which have profoundly affected the lives of the local population in Kiryandongo.

Participants attending the dialogue.

In recent years, Kiryandongo district has been embroiled in violent land evictions orchestrated to accommodate multinational large-scale agriculture plantations and wealthy individuals leaving the poor marginalized.

According to various reports, including findings from Witness Radio’s 2020 research Land Grabs at a Gun Point, the forceful land acquisitions in Kiryandongo have significantly impacted the livelihoods of local communities. It is estimated that nearly 40,000 individuals have been displaced from their land to make room for land-based investments in the Kiryandongo district. However, leaders in the district also revealed in the dialogue that women and children are affected most.

The Kiryandongo Deputy Resident District Commissioner, Mr. Jonathan Akweteireho, emphasized that all offices within the Kiryandongo district are actively involved in addressing the prevalent land conflicts. He also extended a welcome to Witness Radio, acknowledging their collaborative efforts in tackling and resolving land and environmental issues in the district.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we all know that the land rights together with environmental rights have been violated in our district, but because we don’t know what our rights are, because we have not directly done what we could to safeguard our rights and now this is the time that Witness Radio has brought us together to safeguard our rights. I want to welcome you in Kiryandongo and be rest assured that we shall give you all the necessary support to help us manage these rampant cases,” Ms. Adyeri said in her remarks during the dialogue meeting.

The team leader at Witness Radio Uganda, Mr. Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala expressed gratitude to the participants for their active involvement in the dialogue and revealed that Witness Radio’s objective is to find a holistic solution to the escalating land disputes in Kiryandongo district serving as an example to other districts.

“We are here to assist Kiryandongo district in attaining peace and stability because it stands as a hotspot for land grabbers in Uganda. Mismanagement of land conflicts in Uganda could potentially lead to a significant internal conflict. Everywhere you turn, voices are lamenting the loss of their land and property. Kiryandongo, abundant with ranches, suffers from a lack of a structured framework, which amplifies these land conflicts. The influx of wealthy investors further complicates the situation,” Mr. Ssebaggala disclosed.

Within the dialogue, Mr. Ssebaggala emphasized the need for the Kiryandongo district council to pass a by-law aimed at curbing land evictions as an initial step in addressing the prevalent land injustices.

Continue Reading


Kiryandongo authorities decry rising cases of land disputes



The LC5 chairperson of Kiryandongo, Ms Edith Aliguma Adyeri, has saidnland dispute has impacted on people’s lives, dignity and children’s education in the district.

Just like other parts of Uganda, conflicts over land in Kiryandongo arise when individuals – who often are blood relatives – compete for use of the same parcel of land or when members of the community lay claim over ownership of unutilised government land.

Ms Adyeri further said land and environmental rights affect people both directly and indirectly, “and we are not hearing it from afar. It is already together with us [here], it has already affected us!”

She was speaking at a meeting which sought to discuss alternative remedies to salvage the appalling land and environmental rights situation in Kiryandongo at the district headquarters on Thursday.

The one-day dialogue was aimed at reflecting on the plight of land and environmental rights defenders, local and indigenous communities and the role of responsible land-based investments in protecting people and the planet.

It was attended by private companies, members of civil society and local government officials and organised by Witness Radio – an advocate for land and environmental rights in Uganda – in partnership with Oxfam, and Kiryandongo District leadership.

“Some people have even died, families are broken up, and brothers are not seeing eye-to-eye because of land rights. Access to justice is equally becoming very difficult because when you hire one lawyer that
lawyer will talk to learned friends, and they agree. They leave you in suspense,” Ms Adyeri said.

According to her, some children have not accessed education because of land and environmental rights.

Mr Jonathan Akweteireho, the deputy Resident District Commissioner of Kiryandongo, said enlightened people especially should be sensitive to the historical injustice of this area.

“We can never handle the Bonyoro land question without thinking about that history. It will be an injustice to the incomers, to the government and to the leaders who don’t understand,” he said.

“We had 38 ranches here which on the guidance of these international organisations, especially the World Bank, the government restructured them, allowing people to settle there, they were never given titles and up to today, there are big problems in all those ranches,” he added.

Mr Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala, the executive director of Witness Radio, said that a well-functional land sector supports land users or holders and investors, reduces inefficiencies and provides mechanisms to resolve land disputes.

Mr David Kyategeka, the secretary to the Kiryandongo District Land Board, said the issue of land rights is very clear but the major challenge has been sensitising the locals to know what rights he or she expects to enjoy out of this very important resource.


Continue Reading

Resource Center

Legal Framework




Subscribe to Witness Radio's newsletter


Subscribe to Witness Radio's newsletter